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March 13-17th 2017 is National Patient Safety Awareness Week! This week is sponsored by the National Patient Safety Foundation and is dedicated to raising awareness about patient safety among health care professionals and the public. Each year the University of Vermont Medical Center joins hundreds of health care organizations across the country in affirming our commitment to making the health care system as safe as possible for every patient.

The University of Vermont Medical Center promotes a philosophy of continuous improvement, and has been nationally recognized as a leader in health care quality and safety. Still, we recognize that there will always be opportunities for improvement and we must be vigilant in our efforts to keep patients safe. We strive to get it right the first time, every time.

Health care has become more complex, increasing the need for focused efforts on patient safety. The World Health Organization defines patient safety as “the prevention of errors and adverse effects associated with health care.” It is an expectation that health care is safe and effective. Still, keeping patients safe doesn’t just happen by chance. It requires a positive culture of safety, where people in any role feel free to express any patient safety concerns they encounter. More often than not, important areas of concern are identified first by front line staff members who recognize patient safety as a priority.

The University of Vermont Medical Center does have staff members specifically devoted to patient safety and quality, but keeping patients safe is a part of everyone’s job regardless of their role. Many times each year, The University of Vermont Medical Center honors staff members who report unsafe conditions or safety issues with a ‘Good Catch’ award. Many of these have resulted in systems level improvements.

Patients and family members also play a role and are our partners in safety. Patient and Family Advisors are volunteers who have joined our team to help represent the patient and family perspective on committees throughout the organization. Again and again, we find that patient-centered care is safe patient care.

A culture of safety also requires procedures for identifying and addressing patient safety concerns at a systems level. Year after year, the University of Vermont Medical Center produces numerous system level improvements to help make it easier for staff to provide high quality care, while making it more difficult for an error to reach a patient. Whether preventing infections, or patient falls, ensuring clear communication, or securing health records, patient safety is given the highest priority at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

This week we will be posting daily blogs with perspectives on safety and letting you know how you can partner with us in patient safety. Answer the question at the end of each daily blog and you will be entered to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card made possible by a partnership with the New England Federal Credit Union. Thank you for joining us in recognizing National Patient Safety Awareness Week and for everything you do to keep patients safe every day!

Partner with us, speak up, and don’t leave patient safety to chance!

Sincerely,

The Office of Patient Safety at the University of Vermont Medical Center

  1. National Patient Safety Foundation. (2017). NPSF unveils plans for Patient Safety Awareness Week. NPSF News & Press: Industry News. Retrieved from http://www.npsf.org/news/330625/NPSF-Unveils-Plans-for-Patient-Safety-Awareness-Week-March-12-18-2017.htm
  2. World Health Organization. (2017). Health topics: Patient Safety. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/topics/patient_safety/en/

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